Out Goes To Sweden: Herring Is Caring
By Max Berlinger
“We eat herring twice a year,” says our welcoming guide to Sweden, Anders Lindstrom from our airline host, SAS. “At Christmas and Midsummer.” We learned quickly that the celebration of Midsummer is a BIG deal in Sweden. We also learned that although the typical Swede might only eat herring twice a year, they eat a lot of it. No, we really mean a lot of it. On Friday, we indulged in a smorgasbord at Skansen, one of the 32,000 islands surrounding the Stockholm archipelago. We’re not making that number up – there really are 32,000 islands surrounding Stockholm. And there really are 27,000 different ways to eat herring. Maybe not, but on Friday we sampled five for lunch (herring with blackcurrants?), then another four for dinner, where our group was split over the brown butter herring – some thought it exquisite, some thought it diabolical. We joked about eating herring for breakfast, but it was indeed available at the much-admired breakfast buffet at the Hilton Slussen. We didn’t actually eat it that morning, but when we ventured to the island of Fjaderholmarnas and settled into our seats at the exquisitely designed Fjaderholmarnas Krog restaurant (we just like writing Fjaderholmarnas, because we can’t actually pronounce it, but it means Feather Islands), which had a rarefied Cape Code vibe, with an inspiring outlook over the water, we were treated to another three herring starters – the Cognac, the Lemon and the Classic, which tasted of cloves and was just the right mixture of sweet and sour (we were becoming herring experts by this time). As we write, we are contemplating dinner at Villa Godthem, a restaurant which only opened a couple weeks ago. We’re still in the middle of the Midsummer celebrations, so it’s not a matter of IF we get herring tonight, it’s just a question of which kind of herring. We’re already thinking of a compelling herring sidebar for our October issue, which will feature all of the wonderful things we discovered in Sweden this week. What’s your favorite herring? So far we have Keith Herring, herring aids, red herrings (have you SEEN The Killing on AMC – it’s full of them) and herringbone. Yes, we’re being silly. But we’re in Sweden and we’re having fun. And it’s Midsummer. And you can marry your boyfriend in New York. And the Johnnie Walker Red in our hotel suite is free, and that means a lot in Stockholm.
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